Ontario Releases Plan To Grow And Protect The Forestry Industry And Its Forests

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Rendering of bridge over Duchesnay Creek – North Bay. Pics: ontario.ca

NORTH BAY: The Ontario government has released Sustainable Growth: Ontario’s Forest Sector Strategy, the province’s plan to create jobs and encourage economic growth in the forest industry.

The strategy will support the Indigenous, northern and rural communities that depend on the sector while ensuring the province’s forests stay healthy for generations to come.

Making the announcement, John Yakabuski, Minister of Natural Resources and Forestry, said: “Our government has developed a strategy that will help create more good-paying jobs for Ontarians and provide a greater opportunity in communities that depend on the forestry sector.”

“At the same time, we are taking steps to protect our forests. Ontario’s sustainable forest management practices are based on the most up-to-date science and are continuously reviewed and improved to ensure the longterm health of our forests while providing social, economic, and environmental benefits for everyone across the province,” Minister Yakabuski added.

The fundamental pillar of the strategy is the promotion of stewardship and sustainability, recognizing the importance of keeping Crown forests healthy, diverse, and productive so Ontario’s forest industry can remain viable over the long term.

The strategy also focusses on the importance of putting more wood to work, improving competitiveness, and fostering innovation, new markets, and talent.

Since announcing the intention to create a strategy in late 2018, and following the launch of the draft strategy in December 2019, the government has held comprehensive consultations, hosting 27 engagement sessions with Indigenous leaders, municipalities and industry, as well as collecting feedback from the public through multiple Environmental Registry postings.

The new 10-year forestry strategy is deeply rooted in Ontario’s sustainable forest policy framework, which is among the most rigorously regulated systems in the world.

Ontario’s forest sector plants approximately 73 million trees annually and drops an additional 365 million seeds aerially on harvested Crown lands to help regenerate forests.

The province has 71 million hectares of forest, of which 27.7 million hectares are managed
Crown forests. Less than half of one percent of managed Crown forests is harvested each year.

“As we saw during the COVID-19 outbreak, the forest sector and its products are not only critical to the economy but to the lives of all Ontarians, providing essential forest products for hygiene, food, and medical supplies, as well as packaging and shipping products,” said Minister Yakabuski.

“In many Ontario communities, forestry jobs are the heart of the economy, and this strategy is part of our plan to build Ontario together with a better quality of life and a higher standard of living in every region of the province in a sustainable and responsible way.”

An Advisory Committee will be tasked with developing and overseeing an implementation
plan, including providing input on proposed key performance indicators in the short, medium, and long term.

The Province has supported four tall wood demonstration projects that are in various planning and development stages, including:

• The Arbour, George Brown College’s 12-story mass-timber building development in Toronto

• the 14-story Academic Tower at the University of Toronto

• the 77 Wade Avenue development, an 8-story office building to be built in Toronto In addition, a wooden truss highway bridge in North Bay, originally built in 1937, is being replaced using mass timber. Ontario is working with Nipissing First Nation to create opportunities for skills development and job creation while building innovative infrastructure.

• Forestry was deemed an essential industry during the COVID-19 outbreak as the industry
provided materials used in hospital masks, gowns, and other hygiene products, as well as packaging for sterile medical and food wrappings.

• The forest sector generates over $18 billion in revenue and supports approximately 147,000 direct and indirect jobs across Ontario.

• Wood produced from Ontario’s Crown forests is sustainably sourced and renewable. Wood is a renewable resource, a clean energy source, and a sustainable — and biodegradable — alternative to single-use plastics.

• A recent study for the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe projected that demand for wood products is expected to increase by 30 percent by 2030 due to a growing shift in consumer preferences away from single-use plastics.